Summary: Naomi undergoes a changed perspective.
I. CHANGE: RUTH 1:20
II. CIRCUMSTANCES: RUTH 1:21
III. CONSOLATION: RUTH 1:22
INTRODUCTION: We have seen from the previous verses how that the two women left Moab and are now heading to the “House of Bread,” Bethlehem. As the two women: Naomi and Ruth, drew near the village, there were workers in the field who were shocked to see Naomi after so long a time of absence from Israel. Verse 20 ends with the question, “Is this, Naomi?” In that verse she gives her answer, “Call me not Naomi, but call me Mara.”
She attests that her circumstances have changed the concept of her character. Naomi, meant “Pleasantness” whereas Mara meant, “Bitterness.” The last ten years or more affected her gravely and she reveals the depth of her despair by asking that her former life and name be changed to the present time of despondency and despair. While we may fault Naomi for this assumption, sometimes we Christians enter into the Slough of Despair and there we find ourselves with memories of past blessings and happiness, thinking we will never be better and that the sun will not shine upon us again. However, the sun did eventually shine upon Naomi and it will shine upon us if we remain faithful to Him.
In these verses of Scripture, I see three things. I see where the CHANGE occurred in Naomi and sometimes that same change can happen to we who are faithful to God. Next, I see the CIRCUMSTANCES of Naomi and how she arrived at this feeling. Then, I see where the CONSOLATION occurred to her. God was faithful to His daughter and will be faithful to us if we stay true to Him.
I. CHANGE: It is true that people change. I guess it is inevitable, but we are not quite the person we were ten years ago. Sometimes we change for the better-sometimes for the worse. Such was the instance with Naomi. She left her homeland with two boys and a husband, but now they sleep in Moab. She now returns with one of her former daughter-in-laws. Along the journey of her life, she encountered some radical happenings and now she returns home alone-save with her gentile daughter-in-law.
One of the ways that Naomi must have CHANGED was in her Concepts of God, Himself. She left Bethlehem with her soul full and her stomach empty. While in Moab, she was able to satisfy her physical appetite yet she lost her happiness. Out of these dire straights, she attributes her misfortunes to the God who she has served. Yet, her devotion to God was remarkable because Ruth said that she would embrace the God of Naomi. However, circumstances affected Naomi greatly and the only One she could blame was God. Where was her Concepts of God that sustained her during the draught, the deaths, the dismays of life? Her inner thoughts and ideas about God were changing and perhaps no one knew except her. Finally, her real thoughts and Concepts of the God of all gods came tumbling forth from her lips: “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.” She blamed God for what she had gone through. I never read where God upbraided her for these thoughts. He knew Naomi and He knew that deep down in her soul, she still believed in Him. Are we any different from her? No. We often are faced with events that challenge our Concepts of God and our relationship with Him, but He is always patient and kind and He eventually rescues that soul which truly believes in Him.
Not only did Naomi’s concepts about God and herself CHANGE, so did her Character. She was different upon her return home. The CHANGE in her self-identity became evident, but also her true Character, began to shine through her facade. She felt that for some reason or other, she was being unjustly bothered with the circumstances of her life. She seemed to say, “Why me?” She had done all she knew what to do. She remained faithful to God in a foreign land to the point that she won a gentile woman to embrace her God. Yet, she really believed that she was not the same person she once was and she felt her old identity ease away only to be replaced by a bitter, inward looking person. She did not like what she saw and felt, but she could not deny it. She felt that her very core of being was transformed into one whom she did not like, but one she could not run away or flee from it.
The enemy of our soul is adapt at doing this to God’s children. Job’s wife fell into that trap when she told Job to curse God and die. She hated to see the love of her life suffer and she thought that God had abandoned her mate. She changed on the inside due to outward circumstances and she wanted an end to her husband’s suffering. Let us not judge Job’s wife nor Naomi too harshly-sometimes we are just as guilty as they were. We all would like to go to Heaven on a bed of roses, but that is not how God wants us to live. He sends us rain along with the sunshine-it is only how we internalize the shifts in life that change us. Naomi felt that her true self was gone-the God who loved her dearly was only refining it. Naomi recovered and we can too if we refuse to allow events to permanently change who we really are.